Pens set to host Flyers in NBC showdown
Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 7:42 PMFLYERS (45-24-9) AT PENGUINS (48-24-6)
: NBC (HD)
: Philadelphia 6-2-2; Pittsburgh 6-3-1.
: This will be the fifth of six meetings between the two Atlantic Division rivals. The two clubs meet again the last game of the season. After the first four games, Philadelphia is 3-1, while Pittsburgh is 1-2-1.
: Both teams have a lot riding on the contest, as the Penguins are still chasing the New York Rangers for a potential top spot in the Eastern Conference, while maintaining their position, at least, as the four-hole, which would give them home-ice in the first round against — who else? — Philadelphia. For the Flyers, their focus is on trying to steal home-ice from Pittsburgh, their likely first-round opponent. Regardless of how things unfold in the standings, any meeting between the two clubs figures to be feature a playoff feel.
: When the Flyers skate into Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins, it will be the second game of a back-to-back. Saturday afternoon, the Flyers ended the month of March with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators. On the whole, the month treated Philly well, as the Flyers won 11 of 16 games and earned points in 13 of 16. Despite the club's strong play down the stretch, they still remain in the five-spot in the East. Things could change quickly, but the Flyers know that the playoffs, for all intents and purposes, starts when they visit Pittsburgh.
"It's kind of weird when you've got to play them (late) in the regular season and you know you're going to play them in the playoffs," Claude Giroux
: The Penguins were seemingly unbeatable for the better part of a couple months and while they remain a threat night in, night out, the club lost three of five games and has given up 18 goals in those defeats. During and after that stretch, players and coaches alike preached the importance of tightening up defensively. For the most part, the Penguins did that Friday night in Buffalo against a desperate Sabres, in which they won 5-3 with backup Brent Johnson
between the pipes. Fortunately for the Penguins, whatever defensive mistakes were made were ultimately covered up by Sidney Crosby
and his four-point outing. The challenge when the Flyers come to town will be to balance going on the offensive, while maintain a defensive edge against an equally potent team.
: The Flyers have been led by the play of Wayne Simmonds
, who's riding a three-game point streak in which he's amassed five points, including a three-point night. For the Penguins, NHL leading point producer Evgeni Malkin
has points in four straight games, in which he has seven points.
: The Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov
, Kimmo Timonen
are day-to-day, while James Van Riemsdyk
(foot) is out until early April, while Andrej Meszaros
(lower body) is out until late April. For the Penguins, Kris Letang
is day-to-day and Ben Lovejoy
is out 3-4 weeks.
: Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis
currently owns the League's longest point streak (13 games).
: Penguins goalie Brent Johnson
on Sidney Crosby
since his return from concussion symptoms:
"He's the greatest thing I've ever seen," he said. "Coming back the way he has is just fantastic. He's priceless."